Is fantasizing helpful or harmful?
Fantasy is the process of engagement with unconscious processes, from the depths of the mythic unconscious to the make-believe worlds of online gaming. In passive fantasy we receive products of the unconscious as charged internal images: nighttime dreams, trance states and visions. Passive fantasy transgresses natural law, the limitations of waking life, and cultural restrictions, for in the subterranean realms of psychic experience all is permitted. Active fantasy allows us to interact with the unconscious and shape our experiences. It lives next door to ideas, reverie, play, intuition, and creativity.
Passive or active, fantasy can call us into lives that are larger and more enlivened, or seduce us into escapism that impedes adaptation to reality. Today we can consume fantasy, and it can be consuming. Jung’s collaborator, Marie-Louise von Franz said, “The great difficulty is to save the fantasy which is life-giving and cut away the childishness of the wish to realize it.”
Here’s the dream we analyze:
“I’m in a small underground room. Near the ceiling, in a shadowy corner, hangs a cocoon or nest. It looks like a felted mitten and contains sleeping baby bats. Frightened, I summon my husband and quietly point out the nest. He agrees that we should take care not to wake the baby bats—for even though they are tiny and blind, they are not vulnerable. I whisper the phrase “dangerous little experts.” We stand as still as we can in the dark. The next scene is outdoors and sunny. I’m in the middle of a street that is normally busy, but now empty. A snowy owl appears before me on the pavement. I again summon my husband, and as we admire the owl, five more snowies arrive. They grow until they stand about four feet tall, then begin hopping and spinning and flapping, almost like they’re performing a ceremonial Native American dance. I suspect they are children wearing feather costumes, but no, they really are owls. My husband and I are thrilled and honored. The street seems alive with magic.”
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Quoted: Marie Louise von Franz, Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology
Interpretation of this dream might have been aided by her associations to the bats, owls and the “dangerous little experts.”